The 134th Kentucky Derby was today, the longest running sporting event in American history. The remarkable thing is that horses are the ultimate athlete. They do what they do simply because someone says “Go run.” So they run. They train almost since birth, and they’re nothing short of amazing to watch.
Anyone who watched today’s race knows what happened. Eight Belles placed second but broke both front ankles and was euthanized on the track. God bless her sweet heart, she literally gave everything she had for that race. It scared me to think how much commitment that takes. Would that I could be that strong.
It reminded me of when I was a kid, maybe 10, and “girls against boys” really meant something. I had a nemesis, Timmy Reardon. He had 3 younger sisters and he was constantly trying to prove himself, prove that girls were inferior. Whenever we played wiffle ball, it was always girls against boys. (He ganged up with my brother and our neighbor Andrew.) Where Timmy and I were concerned, every game of anything was a grudge match.
That summer, Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure raced at the Belmont for the ultimate contest of Girls Against Boys. I couldn’t wait to make Timmy Reardon see once and for all that girls were better. We set up on front of our TV sets and watched with baited breath, but I watched as Ruffian fell lame with a broken ankle. She was later was put to sleep. (According to Wikipedia, when she woke from anesthesia after the surgery that was meant to save her life, she fought like she was still running the race. She refused to stop running, right to the end.) I cried my eyes out much the way I cried my eyes out today when I heard that Eight Belles was gone.
My husband’s still a little mad at me. Okay, so I’d had a couple of drinks, but I wasn’t drunk, and I was even less drunk after I heard what happened to Eight Belles. He doesn’t know about me and Timmy Reardon, and what losing Ruffian meant to me. (I have a photo of her in my My Pictures folder.) He doesn’t understand that these fillies gave their everything in a way that I’m afraid to. It’s too terrifying to think of going that far.
But maybe that’s exactly what I need to do. Not that I’m going to break my ankles on the way to publication, but I need to stop worrying about what might not happen and just RUN. Give it everything I have and don’t think, don’t worry, don’t stop. Just run.